Hellebores are the iconic late winter or early spring perennial flower. Thriving in shade, these evergreen plants manage to stave off frost damage, wind, and desiccation to produce some of the loveliest flowers we see. At a time when we’re starved to see some beauty in our gardens, hellebores are glad to oblige. They can take credit for extending our Northern growing season by a big margin.
A member of the ranunculus family, hellebores not only bloom early but continue for weeks and sometimes months, usually still in flower when other plants are just beginning to show. Plant enthusiasts know hellebores well and enjoy watching them naturalize an area. Their root systems are strong so they will spread as far as you allow.
There is a great range of colors available and the flowers themselves can be quite complex showing various shades of color, veining, spots or picotee edges. The flower shape itself can also vary from open anemone-like blooms to bell-shaped or ruffled double blooms. Below are three varieties that we think are very worthy of your shade garden.
‘Winter Sunshine’ lives up to its name. The light color offered on upward facing flowers will stand out well in the shade. Looking out of your window in late winter will never be the same if you see these 3-4″ wide faces looking back. You’ll know winter can’t last forever.
‘Rio Carnival’ is one of the HONEYMOON™ series from Walters Gardens. It certainly lives up to its name! The flowers are a bold combination of single yellow blooms covered in rich burgundy speckling. ‘Rio Carnival’ won’t be hidden as it also comes up with a profusion of buds!
Walters Gardens, Inc. also boasts the WEDDING PARTY™ series of hellebores. This variety, ‘Best Man’ has double flowers in shades of mauve and purple. It’s an extremely vigorous selection, blooming out with a large number of flowers.